Putin says two Skripal poisoning suspects are ‘civilians’

Vladimir Putin says Russia has identified the two men Britain named as suspects in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and there is "nothing criminal" about them.

"I call on them to appear before the media and tell their story", Putin said, according to Russia's embassy in the U.K. His remarks Wednesday came from Vladivostok, where Putin is holding an economic summit with other leaders.

Putin said they were civilians who did not work for the military. "I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves".

British authorities last week charged in absentia two Russians they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - who they said had tried to murder the Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade nerve agent in England.

Russian Federation has repeatedly contested the allegations and on Wednesday Putin escalated the war of words by denying the men were members of military intelligence.

Britain blames the Russian government for the attack, a claim that Moscow has vehemently denied.

A surveillance image shows both suspects at Salisbury train station at 4:11 p.m. on March 3, 2018.

Prosecutors in the United Kingdom have issued European arrest warrants for the two men, who are accused of using a phony perfume bottle to spray the nerve agent Novichok on the front-door handle of Skripal's home in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

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He added, "There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you".

If they do so, it would not be the first time accused Russian assassins have answered worldwide allegations through the Russian media.

Rowley in July unwittingly picked up a fake perfume bottle, which the perpetrators filled with nerve agent meant to poison Skripal and made to look like it was from a designer brand. Russian Federation kicked out a similar number of those countries' envoys.

He said the government had exposed them as GRU operatives - and that is what they are.

Russian Federation adamantly denies involvement in the poisoning, which had added to severe strains in ties between Russian Federation and the West. One of them, a 44-year-old woman, later died.

Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs last week it was "not a rogue operation".

An Interpol Red Notice and European arrest warrant have been issued, though the Russian Constitution forbids them from being extradited.

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